AFC Asian Cup 2019 – Players to Watch: Yuya Osako

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Gabriel Tan

In Part 2 of FOX Sports Asia’s “Players to Watch” series for AFC Asian Cup 2019, we look closely at Yuya Osako, Japan’s new focal point in attack.

One of the traditional heavyweights of Asian football, Japan look primed to embark on a new era at AFC Asian Cup 2019 with coach Hajime Moriyasu opting for a fresh-looking squad.

Gone are retired stalwarts like Keisuke Honda, Makoto Hasebe and Gotoku Sakai, while experienced campaigners such as Shinji Kagawa, Eiji Kawashima and Shinji Okazaki also look to have been phased out by Moriyasu.

While much is expected from the up-and-coming trio of Takumi Minamino, Shoya Nakajima and Ritsu Doan, the Samurai Blue will still need some mature heads to lead the way at United Arab Emirates 2019 and Yuya Osako is one of them.

At the age of 28, and having played in Germany for the past five years, the forward has no shortage of quality and experience but also proved to be a man for the big occasion back in June, when he shone as Japan’s lone man in attack in their run to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16.

Although he is more frequently deployed as a mobile forward floating between the lines for club side Werder Bremen, Osako is likely to be the Samurai Blue’s focal point in attack at the Asian Cup.